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Everything About Electric Smart Meters Explained [16 questions]

As in different fields, for example, banking and telephone utilities, digitization is going to revolutionize the manner in which we utilize electrical power.

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Our old and classic electromechanical meters are progressively clearing a path for “intelligent” meters named Electric Smart Meters. Additionally, referred to as communicating or smart meters.

So, in this article, I’m going to cover each and every aspect related to this incredible device. Let’s begin!

What is an electric smart meter?

Electric smart meters are devices used to record, handle, and measure the performance of electronic gadgets in your home.

What makes the meters “smart” is their capability to give detailed and exact analytics of electrical usage at predetermined intervals or in real-time, all without a professional technician.

Smart meters utilize a safe national communication network referred to as DCC. These meters are used to send your real energy usage to your supplier wirelessly and automatically.

If you have an electric smart meter you don’t have to depend on estimated energy bills and can read your own standard readings.

What is the difference between a smart meter and a regular electric meter?

With regard to energy meters, there are two types: smart meters and regular energy meters.

A regular meter is also known as an analogue meter. It functions by logging the measure of electricity that you utilize every month.

This information is then investigated by your utility organization, shared with you, and presented in your monthly bill. This bill shows your energy utilization for the month.

Standard or regular meters are the oldest type of meters that you actually find in most homes of the UK. They calculate the amount of energy you use then show it in a display or dial on the front of the meter.

Smart meters record how much gas or electric power you’re utilizing, progressively, and send data straight to your energy supplier, utilizing similar sorts of networks and signals as a cell phone.

Your energy supplier, at that point, utilizes that information to ensure your bills are consistently exact and accurate.

A smart meter can likewise provide you data about your energy usage, to assist you with scaling back and save some cash.

Smart electric meters are more intelligent than smart gas meters. Smart gas meters calculate the amount of gas you’re utilizing, and afterward give it to their connected electric meter, utilizing a Home Area Network.

Although the electric meter has a SIM card that permits it to get to a Wide Area Network, so it can share the data about both your electricity and gas usage with your energy supplier.

Are there any disadvantages to electric smart meters?

Yes, there are a few disadvantages of electric smart meters. Each device comes with its exciting features, benefits, and drawbacks.

Regarding new and power-saving technologies, there come new challenges that will set the bar high in terms of cost, energy-intensive data storage, security, and the privacy issues that pose a potential threat over these commercial and domestic technologies.

If users are inexperienced with handling new smart systems on their own, they are less inclined to show interest in the new energy-saving features of such electric smart meters (or how their personal information is being utilized).

Most of the electric smart meter’s drawbacks may appear short-term, but in some cases, such challenges will lower the rate of adoption for these new devices and technologies particularly in rural and presently off-grid parts.

Promises to ensure and value the personal information of clients is critical. However, unfeasible if electrical organizations don’t put cybersecurity and technical leadership evenly in the policies of their organizations.

Clients’ safety is as important to the product as the responsive functionalities that make them valuable to service organizations.

Lose its smartness

The main drawback of electric smart meters is that they can lose their smartness or smart ability if you switch away from the supplier who installed them.

In case, you’ve put off switching because you’re interested in the advantages of your electric smart meter, you could pass up on savings that you could possibly make by changing suppliers.

Your electric smart meter is bound to lose usefulness if it’s a first-generation meter.

Professional installation can also be challenging

Your electric smart meter should be installed by a professional, which you may consider a drawback.

Your supplier will provide a technician for the installation of your electric smart meter and guide you on how to use it, and this entire process might take a couple of hours (during which you could possibly lose your patience).

In-Home Display might be off base.

At the point when you switch with a SMETS 1 meter, the In-Home Display should keep on showing energy usage and allows you to read the readings without expecting access to the meter.

Anyhow, their capability to communicate with the electric smart meter might be inconsistent mostly, they stop working totally sometimes.

Not reduce your bills alone

A smart meter won’t lessen bill charges alone. While having a electric smart meter is indicating a decrease in expenses, it can’t diminish your usage by itself. The logic is that by monitoring your spending and usage data, you are more disposed to reduce your usage.

The reality might not be the same as home to home, particularly if you don’t focus on your electric smart meter readings.

Weak signals issues

You might face poor-signal issues. First-generation electric smart meters communicate utilizing versatile mobile networks. Similarly, your mobile signals can be somewhat inconsistent in some cases and in certain areas.

The same applies to electric smart meters, if you have poor mobile signals, it can stop the meter from sending readings to the suppliers.

What is the real reason for electric smart meters?

These electric smart meters have surprised the business and all industries. By utilizing further advanced technologies, these meters take a great deal of the mystery out of energy utilization for users like you.

Through excess of information, these electric smart meters are equipping property holders and energy suppliers with new data that can be utilized for a better understanding of energy utilization habits.

This is a significant change on the grounds that, unexpectedly data is being partaken in two ways. Presently you and your energy organization can get notifications with respect to your energy continuously in real-time.

These meters can possibly assist users with turning out to be more energy-effective, all while offering adequate chances and bits of knowledge to assist you with getting a good deal on your next energy bill.

Can electric smart meters tell what appliances you are using?

Electric smart meter’s data collection feature gives deeper insight than could be gotten through the thermal imaging tech.

Modern appliances have certain energy-utilization patterns or “load signatures” that inform the utility precisely about the appliances.

For example, a refrigerator utilizes energy differently than a television. By comparing the longitudinal energy-utilization data against a vast library of appliance load signatures, the appliances in your home, and their usage can be predicted.

Electric smart meters additionally offer clients bits of knowledge on their utilization habits. Smart meters allow utility clients to monitor their energy usage more accurately and choose more informed energy options.

The gadgets can record and measure energy usage on an hourly premise with certain models estimating usage at regular intervals of each 15 minutes.

When this data is created directly accessible to the client, it can assist them with understanding which behaviours or appliances lead to higher energy utilization.

By assessing real-time information, clients can make choices that assist them with saving cash.

For example, users can monitor times where it is more cost-proficient to run appliances like clothes dryers or dishwashers and set timers for these machines to work when energy is least expensive to utilize.

Additionally, connected thermostats can be programmed to work most ideally with power utilization, and decide if the HVAC unit or basically the fan is expected to cool the home or circulate air.

What frequency do electric smart meters use?

Electric Smart meters use frequency within the range of 900 MHz to 2.4 GHz.

Electric Smart meters utilize extremely low power radiofrequency (RF) signals to transfer data like meter readings to a base station for use in giving electricity service to consumers.

Electric smart meters communicate utilizing comparative technology and frequencies to cell phones.

RF signals from electric smart meters are lower power as compared to the signals from cell phones. Just happens in short bursts for an aggregate of the percentage of a day, and reduces quickly with distance from the meter.

Electric smart meters utilize radio waves to send the data they collect. There are numerous other regular gadgets that utilize radio waves for communication purposes and these involve radio TV transmitters, cell phones, and remote (wi-fi) PCs.

The system that accumulates data from the gas and electricity meters is comprised of 2 primary radio parts:

HAN (Home Area Network) connects the electric smart meters with an in-home display that that permits householders to see their energy usage in real-time. And a communication model that permits correspondence between the meter and the utility organization and which in existing UK meters of this sort, contains a SIM card like those utilized in cell phones.

The communications are not consistent and possibly happen during short irregular bursts when information is really being sent.

Safety Concerns

The “electric smart meters” that are usually installed by electrical utilities monitor the electricity usage and relay the data by a built-in radio transmitter.

However, the radiation to which individuals are exposed from these meters rapidly drops off with distance, like with the light bulb, and is way below set-up safety limits.

Besides that, the electric smart meters only communicate for some milliseconds at a time which is a complete total of a few minutes in a day.

Cell phones, cordless phones, baby monitors, routers, video game controllers, and especially microwave ovens expose us to the same level of radiation or even at far higher levels.

Electric smart meters are reasonable because of a little drop in the radiofrequency photon bucket (Electromagnetic radiation can be defined as a stream of mass-less particles, called photons. Each photon travels at the speed of light in a wave-like structure. Each photon involves a specific amount of energy.)

Can electric smart meters turn off your power?

Yes, an electric smart meter can turn off the power only if the smart meter includes an internal isolator which not all of the meters include. Also, the supply can be disconnected remotely.

Even though this would usually happen if the meter is set on the prepayment mode instead of credit mode.

Remotely disconnecting the power was genuinely viewed as less risk due to the feature that is the same as the “dumb” card or token prepayment meters, which eliminate the power when the emergency credit runs out.

Remotely reconnecting the meter from anyone, without any input, on-site was viewed as riskier due to the gadgets such as power tools that could start running if they weren’t turned off when the power was cut originally.

That’s why the consumer needs to either switch on the power back themselves at the meter or ask their supplier to reconnect it.

The accessible choices will vary by supplier, with some deciding not to use the feature of remotely disconnecting the supply at all. However, it might be possible technically.

Any user set on the priority services register should likewise be excluded from the procedure of disconnection.

If you have any concerns about this, do contact your supplier. They can tell you about their policies and they likewise hold the particular model and configuration data of the meter installed (or that they are preparing to install) on your property.

Can electric smart meters be hacked?

Yes, they might be hacked. Smart meter hacking is generally led for one of two purposes.

The owner of the premises where a electric smart meter is situated might hack the gadget to interfere with the transmissions so that utilization is under-reported and will be charged accordingly.

On the other hand, an external party might hack the gadget’s data transmissions to access the data about activities within the premises.

There are various approaches to interfere with electric smart meters. One easy approach includes attaching strong magnets outside the smart meter, which interferes with the gadget’s detection of energy usage.

Another method is to use a tool named optical converter to cooperate with the electric smart meter by using the optical port utilized for diagnostics.

If data transmissions aren’t adequately secured, external hackers can alter the communications between the utility and a electric smart meter to access the important data.

Utilized information might be measured in sequences of short intervals as two-second bursts, which can yield detailed data of activities within the premises.

Patterns of usage can indicate over time, for instance, regardless of whether residents are at home or outside, or if a device has been left on.

The tough patterns of brightness connected with particular content can recognize what TV shows and movies are being watched.

There’s additionally a risk of a malware attack that would disrupt the energy grid.

According to some experts, a few risks are associated with electric smart meter security like denial of service attacks, hacking of customer details, and suspected infiltration by foreign intelligence services.

How often do electric smart meters send readings?

Electric smart meters usually send bursts of information, enduring a fraction of a second, at intervals of hours or minutes. 

Lots of certain figures are cited for the total fraction of time that electric smart meters use to transmit for referred to as the duty cycle.

And this is partly because meters are utilized in numerous ways by various utilities. Figures of less than 1%, 0.1%, or even 0.01%, have been determined in different situations and it appears to be safe to consider that essentially all electric smart meters remain under 5%. 

As smart grids are created, it appears to be likely communication with individual meters will be more regular and duty cycles will increment.  But quite a bit of this would be for additional services which were at the consumer’s decision.

Some remote reading meters don’t send information to a hub. Rather than that, they transmit data consistently every second or two, to permit the signal to be gotten by the meter-reading device when driving along the road. 

But a common data-transmitting pulse would be as long as 6ms, yet providing a duty cycle of less than 1%.

Can electric smart meters give wrong readings?

Yes, your electric smart meter might give you the wrong readings. The accuracy of smart meters should be better in terms of showing readings that will be taken at the exact time when your tariff changes or if you move out, but there have been a few issues raised about their accuracy.

Some tests have shown that energy-saving devices like light dimmers can cause the electric smart meter to show wrong readings.

Some researchers have shown that a few electric smart meters over record the energy utilized by up to 250% and few under record by 40% relying upon the energy measurement method used. Further experiments or tests should be carried out regarding this issue.

You can get an electric smart meter checked expertly. However, it will cost you if your doubt isn’t right. Suppliers are needed to check faulty meters.

If you think that your electric smart meter is faulty then you can communicate with your supplier who will send somebody to do a preliminary check. If this doesn’t turn up any issues or you are unsatisfied then you have full right to ask for a lab test carried out by independent experts.

How safe are electric smart meters?

Electric smart meters have been thoroughly tested for their safety. They’ve passed all the EU and UK guidelines that ensure an item is protected. They’re additionally very secure.

They use security measures instructed by the government (like encryption) to ensure that any information your electric smart meter imparts is consistently private and safe.

A few people stress about electric smart meters that (like cell phones, wi-fi) radiate low-frequency radio waves that could be destructive to individuals who are sensitive to electromagnetic fields. However, this is one myth that has been resoundingly excused.

The government has been exploring this for more than 10 years and says there’s no proof of any health risks. They’ve acquainted strict item norms with ensuring electric smart meters are safe and they’ll keep on checking for any harmful impacts as an ever-increasing number of homes get their new meters.

Electric smart meters don’t utilize the internet and have their own private communication system. It’s been developed by top network protection experts including the governments’ security and smart organizations.

How do I connect my electric smart meter?

It’s quite simple to connect your electric smart meter after installation. Your supplier is responsible for the installation of your smart meter.

After that, when you get a electric smart meter, it accompanies a little unit called an In-Home Display (IHD). Your IHD causes you to monitor the energy you are utilizing progressively so you can see which machines or devices are utilizing the most energy in your home and search for approaches to spare.

Your electric smart meter and your In-Home Display will communicate remotely so it’s significant that you position the display close to your meter so it gets a great connection. To set up your In-Home Display:

You should plug the provided cable into the display unit’s back and afterward plug the power cable into a socket in your wall. You can likewise control your display with batteries for brief timeframes by sliding off the back case. You will require 3x AAA batteries for this.

Next, press the button for power on the front of the display and the unit will start associating with your electric smart meter and your Wi-Fi. When your display has got done with connecting, you will see the home screen.

Try turning various devices on and off to check the effect this activity has on your energy utilization.

Your display gets updated with your utilization in pounds and pence in real-time. You can utilize this to check which devices are consuming more energy by switching devices on and off to test how this affects your utilization.

To get a better perspective about your utilization tap the electricity (or gas if you’re using both) button on the home screen. This allows you to check your utilization in real-time as well as the exact amount of energy you have utilized over the last day, week, or even month. 

Tap the electricity button

Tap this electricity icon on the home screen to view more detailed data of your utilization.

See the live usage

View how much energy you are presently utilizing and when you have utilized the most energy throughout the day. You can likewise see your utilization throughout the most recent days, week, or month by choosing an option at the lower part of the screen.

Check your past usage

You can likewise perceive how much energy you have utilized today alongside how much you’ve utilized each day in the last week. In the top right of the screen, utilize the selector to toggle checking your usage in kWh, £, or carbon emitted.

How do I connect my electric smart meter to WIFI?

To keep your electric smart meter’s IHD updated, it’s a smart idea to connect it to your Wi-Fi. For that, you just need to follow a few steps.

Choose wi-fi from the settings menu

Tap on the Setting’s button displayed on the home screen and then tap ‘Wifi’.

Enter the details of your wi-fi

Enter the name of your Wi-Fi network in the SSID box and type your Wi-Fi password. Then tap “apply” and wait for a few seconds for your IHD to connect to the Wi-Fi.

Your wi-fi is connected

Now your IHD is connected to your Wi-Fi. Tap the Home button to get back to the home screen.

Do you take your electric smart meter with you when you move?

No, you can’t take your electric smart meter with you. If you have a smart meter installed in your home, you may likewise have an IHD – a little screen that shows your utilization.

This is connected to your electric smart meter and won’t if you take it somewhere else. In case, your new home has a electric smart meter, you must have an IHD hanging tight for you when you move in.

Do electric smart meters cause higher bills?

Yes, some of these meters might give inaccurate readings and there were many complaints reported previously regarding this issue of electric smart meters causing higher bills.

There have been a few instances of British electric smart meters going haywire. One SSE client went viral because his smart meter showed that he owed the organization more than £30,000.

This was a coincidental blunder, and the error was immediately recognized and settled by the energy organization. But there is proof of more widespread errors in electric smart meters.

After considering many cases of individuals claiming that their bills are either decreased or increased after they installed an electric smart meter, a group of Dutch researchers decided to check the accuracy of electric smart meters under lab conditions.

Checking 9 electric smart meters developed between 2004 to 2014, the researchers found that 5 of the meters gave much higher readings than the exact amount of energy consumed in a test. And a few meters were like 600% out of the amount of power utilized.

Two meters showed readings like 30% lower than the exact amount of energy utilized. The researchers found that energy-saving devices such as energy-saving light bulbs or dimmer switches are the cause of the issue for some meters.

These modern devices confused the electric smart meters because the energy utilization took on an unpredictable waveform. They inferred that the manufacturers of these smart meters had not created enough allowances for this kind of energy-saving devices.

The experts behind the research did not reveal the name or brand of any meter that they have tested but they confirmed that a few of them have been developed and installed in the UK.

Is it worth getting a electric smart meter?

Yes, by considering its benefits, it’s absolutely worth getting a electric smart meter. Let’s find out about those benefits.

No compelling reason to submit meter readings

The biggest benefit of electric smart meters is that it sends readings to your supplier automatically. This implies that you don’t need to stress over making sure to submit them. 

You can intently follow your usage and spend

The In-Home Display can show you precisely how much energy you’re utilizing and the related expense as well. It empowers great saving habits and a few homes are now indicating their energy-saving results of 5 to 20%. Best for budgeting.

Features faulty devices

The In-Home Display shows how much energy you’re utilizing at some random time, permitting you to see any abrupt spikes which might be related to a flawed device in your home. By recognizing these expeditiously, you can guarantee that the device will be managed rapidly and securely.

Precise bills, no estimation

As the electric smart meters automatically send your readings so, you will consistently be charged for what you use.

If you have a regular (non-smart) meter and neglect to submit a reading, your supplier will calculate the estimated value of how much energy you’ve utilized over the billing time period.

They estimate dependent on the typical measure of energy you have utilized previously or the amount they figure you will utilize. At times, the supplier’s evaluations are wrong, particularly if they don’t have a great deal of data about your utilization.

With a electric smart meter, not exclusively will you dodge inaccurate charges, yet in addition, you can likewise try not to assemble a large final bill at the end.

Prepay friendly

If you have a prepayment meter you can likewise move up to a electric smart meter. With a smart prepay meter you can effectively find how much credit left on your meter and even top-up from your cell phone or PC. No more stresses over going off supply.

The other incredible thing is that, in case you’re qualified, you can undoubtedly change to a credit tariff.

An electric smart meter can be exchanged between prepay mode and credit mode. So, your supplier won’t have to fit another meter in your home.

More noteworthy selection of tariffs on offer

As we’re moving towards a smart future, electric smart meters are getting more inescapable. Numerous suppliers favour electric smart meters as are offering selective tariffs to family units with electric smart meters.

Electric smart meter selective tariffs are among the absolute least expensive on offer, giving you a lot of options.

Saving the planet

Electric smart meters improve your consciousness of energy utilization. By changing conduct habits and giving choices to purchase more energy-effective devices, there is less stress on the electricity matrix. Smart Energy GB estimates a 20% decline in discharges from homes and organizations by 2030.


Author: Morten Pradsgaard

As a tech enthusiast and creative individual, my blog Living Smarter offers tips on tech, name ideas, and gaming. I collaborate with companies and individuals to share expertise in various genres and platforms.

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